There are about 250,000 mobility scooters users in the United Kingdom. Scooters are a popular means of outdoor mobility and are less stigmatising than wheelchairs. We were concerned that newspaper articles focus on negative aspects of scooter use and perpetuate damaging stereotypes of elderly and disabled people.
We searched the publishing database “Proquest” for articles printed in English national newspapers using the keyword “scooter”. We categorised articles according to their content.
We found 185 relevant articles between January 1992 and May 2008. The most common themes were: accidents involving scooter users (21.6%); criminal activity by scooter users (19.5%); scooter users as victims of crime (12.4%). Only 10.3% of articles focused on positive aspects of scooter use. Language used to describe scooter users was often humorous, but often relied on negative images of ageing.
Headlines portraying scooter users as criminals and drunkards are common in the English press. Accidents are heavily reported, creating a biased view of scooters as dangerous when the actual risks are minimal. It would be interesting to see if similar trends apply to reporting this subject in other countries.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Mobility scooter, Social gerontology, Ageism